1 G. GURDJIEFF THE HERALD OFCOMING GOOD FIRST APPEAL TO CONTEMPORARY HUMANITY PARIS 1933
2 Contrary to the established custom, I shall not only permit this first book of mine as well as the books of the first series, to be reprinted in any country, but, if necessary, I am willing to subsidize it, on the condition of course that absolute accuracy is preserved. G. GURDJIEFF.
3 * * * Inspired as I am by a deep conviction, springing from a long line of experimental elucidations and deductions pointing to the conclusion that, if a man desires sincerely and seriously, and out of no mere curiosity, to attain to the knowledge of the way leading to Real Being, and if he fulfils to this end all that is requested of him and begins, in fact, among other things to aid indirectly, and from his very first step, the attainment of this by others, he will, by this act alone, become as it were the forming ground for the real data contributing to the manifestation of objective and actual Good; and animated as I am by the general intention of arriving finally, by means of my literary arguments and public demonstrations proposed for the near future of experimental elucidations, at the instilling into the consciousness of my contemporaries of several such "psychic-initiative" factors as in my opinion as well as in that of every man capable of a little impartial meditation ought inevitably to act as guiding principles in the consciousness of all creatures presuming to call themselves "God- Like", of such "initiative" factors, namely, as should certainly include the factor inducing men both to react instinctively and, upon reflection, to realize clearly the moral obligation to help one's neighbour, I have now decided upon the very act of selling and of spreading far and wide the contents of this first of my writings intended to head the list of my publications and directed, by the fulfilment of the task originally imposed upon myself, to initiate of itself in man's consciousness the formation of the aforesaid and, for the communal life of people, important "psychic" factor.
4 Accordingly, as I have the intention, on the one hand, of affording to a multitude of Our Common Father's creatures. who bear your likeness, but whose means are for some reason or other limited, the possibility of acquiring this first booklet of mine free of charge, and as I have, on the other hand, certain definite plans bearing upon the next publication of my writings, I have deliberately decided not to fix any definite price for this booklet, leaving it to the free will of the purchaser to pay from 8 to 108 French francs. I shall at the same time, and without entering into the usual contemporary discussions about life, expressly request all those who happen to acquire this first booklet of mine to answer three questions, which will be set them by the seller so as to permit him to fill in the corresponding paragraphs of the " Registration- Blank " herewith appended. The AUTHOR.
5 REGISTRATION - BLANK appended to THE HERALD OF COMING GOOD 1. Name of purchaser N Address 3. Acquired accidentally or on advice 4. Who advised? Give name and address 5. Sum paid Signature of seller
6 MY FIRST PRACTICAL COUNSEL. I counsel all readers who have at any time met me upon the ground of my ideas to postpone reading this first appeal until they have, concentrating in their nature as well as in their thoughts and feelings, grasped the essence of the content of the circular letter appended to the booklet, and have at the same time previously acquainted themselves with the " Registration-Blank " attached to this letter and which will be of practical import for acquiring the books of my first series of writings. G. GURDJIEFF.
7 Tuesday, 13th September Cafe de la Paix. Paris. A highly original and, to me, even troublingly strange coincidence of several very denned and entirely different factors, arising out of my activity and having bearing upon today, not only compels, but also inspires me to mark this day by a refusal to bide a more convenient time and by an intention to begin on this very day an exposition of the first of the seven appeals which, among others, I decided to address during my period of activity as a writer to the whole of contemporary humanity. I shall begin by explaining the particular nature of this strange coincidence. First of all, expounding as I have done night and day for almost ten years all kinds of fragments of the general mass of information intended by me for publication, I have, as it happens, finished only this day a preliminary compilation of the material designed for this purpose. Secondly, engaged as I have been in the course of the last three years in the completion, parallel to this, of the first series of writings intended to head the list of my publications, I have also finally completed this work on precisely this day. Thirdly and finally, today is the last day of the term I had assigned to myself twenty one years ago, of the term during which I had, according to the special oath
8 I took, bound myself in my conscience to lead in some ways an artificial life, modelled upon a programme which had been previously planned in accordance with certain definite principles. Before venturing to unfold the very substance of my first appeal to contemporary humanity, I count it essential and even in every way my duty, to set forth even if only approximately the motives which compelled me to assume the whole burden of such an artificial life. This protracted and, for me, absolutely unnatural life. absolutely irreconcilable, too, in every way with the traits that had entrenched themselves in my individuality by the time of my maturity, was the direct consequence of my decision, founded upon the results of my previous study of a whole series of historic precedents with a view, first of all, to preventing, by to a certain degree unnatural outward manifestations of myself, the formation, in relation to me, of that already noted from ancient times " something ", termed by the great Solomon, King of " Juda, " Tzvarnoharno, which, as was set out by our ancestors, forms itself by a natural process in the communal life of people as an outcome of a conjunction of the evil actions of so-called " common people " and leads to the destruction of both him that tries to achieve something for general human welfare and of all that he has already accomplished to this end. Secondly, with a view, to counteracting the manifestation in people with whom I came in contact of that inherent trait which, embedded as it is in the psyche of people and acting as an impediment to the realization of my aims, evokes from them, when confronted with other more or less prominent people, the functioning of the feeling of enslavement, paralysing once and for all their capacity for displaying the personal initiative of which I then stood in particular need.
9 My aim at that time was concentrated upon the creation of conditions permitting the comprehensive elucidation of one complicated and with difficulty explicable aspect of the question which had, already long before the beginning of this my artificial life, inhered in my being, and the necessity of whose final solution has, whether by the will of fate or thanks to the inscrutable laws of heredity, become and would, at the moment, appear to be the fundamental aim of my whole life and of the force motivating my activity. I find myself obliged in this, so to say, definitive statement as a writer, which will also have to serve among other things as a sort of " prospectus '' of the new phase of my unremitting activity for the welfare of my neighbours, to give a brief outline of the history of the rise and development of those events and causes which were responsible for the formation in my individuality of the unquenchable striving to solve this question, which had, in the end, become for me what modern psychologists might term an " irresistible Mania " This mania began to impose itself upon my being at the time of my youth when I was on the point of attaining responsible age and consisted in what I would now term an " irrepressible striving " to understand clearly the precise significance, in general, of the life process on earth of all the outward forms of breathing creatures and, in particular, of the aim of human life in the light of this interpretation. Although a multitude of very specific factors, conditioned by my upbringing and education, had served as the primal cause for the formation in my being of the ground giving rise to such, for contemporary man, unusual striving, yet, as I understood later upon giving thought to the matter, the principal cause must in the end be
10 attributed to those entirely accidental circumstances of my life which coincided precisely with the aforesaid transition from preparatory age to responsible age, and which may all be summed up in the fact that all my contacts at the time were almost exclusively with such persons of my age or my seniors who were either in the process of being formed themselves or who had already been formed into precisely that, of late increased amongst us, " psychic typicality " of people, the formation of which, as I myself have statistically established during the existence of my foundation, "The Institute For Man's Harmonious Development", is due to the fact that the future representatives of this " typicality " have never, either with a view to the real understanding of actuality, or in the period of their preparatory age, or, again, in the period of their responsible life, absolutely never, and in spite of the obvious necessity of such a step, laid themselves open to experience, but have contented themselves with other people's fantasies, forming from them illusory conceptions and, at the same time, limiting themselves to intercourse with those like them, and have automatised themselves to a point of engaging upon authoritative discussions of all kinds of seemingly scientific, but, for the most part, abstract themes. Although I, too, at that period of my life, resembled them in my outward manifestations, since I was as much a product as they were of the same abnormal conditions of environment, yet, thanks to the circumstance that I was in my nature, since childhood, already possessed, through the deliberate inculcation of both my father and my first tutor, of certain data permitting the development in my individuality, by the time of my responsible age, among several other very original and inherent traits, of this peculiar trait of inevitable impulse and striving to under-
11 stand the very essence of any object that attracted my attention out of the ordinary, there began to form in my thoughts, gradually and even in a way imperceptibly to my waking consciousness, the " something ", which assumed definition soon after a strong spiritual tribulation caused by the death of an intimate friend, and this newly formed datum of my mind has begun ever since, upon " contact with the so-called cogitative-laura ", the product usually of the frequent repetition of certain defined and automatically current associations in man's mind, to engender in my entirety what I have elsewhere termed an " irrepressible striving ". At first, the manifestation of this strange " psychic factor " influenced only my mental activity, but did not derange me as a whole, that is, the effects of this manifestation did not hinder the established functioning of either my physical organism, with its psycho-nervous system, or the spirit, in the pure sense of the word, and I could, even in periods of pronounced resistance to the influence of this manifestation, by an effort of will or by an artificial stimulation of the mental and emotive associations proceeding within me, so control them as to prevent, so to speak, the " feeding " of this manifestation, and, in that way, to arrest the possibility of the continuation in my entirety of the formation of such undesirable impulses. A little later, upon the inception in my thoughts of this " something ", and as an obvious result of my meeting frequently and discussing this " idee fixe '' of mine with numerous people, about whom I formed, in my as yet not " subjectivized " consciousness, and thanks to the widespread opinions of certain great authorities concerning these so-called " wiseacring " questions, certain precise impressions automatically influencing my general psyche, and as, in the course of discussion with these authorities,
12 as I represent it to myself now, there revived within me a sense of the full seriousness and profundity of these questions, the consequences and the real " significance " of the manifestations peculiar to this extraordinary striving gradually began to make themselves felt in all the parts whose totality coincided with my Being and, sometimes. even to influence their general functioning, that is, in a word, to penetrate into the " marrow-of-my-bones ". The degree of fusion with my Being and the dominating influence on my psyche of this peculiar factor were such, that, after four or five years, I fell completely under its power, and since then it has, like an " itching-itch ", constantly compelled the whole of me or the separate parts of my general individuality, cost what it may, to elucidate everything for the cognition of all which can serve for the final solution of these, for me, cardinal questions. Having become in my inner life, in the full sense of the word, a slave of such " aim ", obviously instilled by the Will of Fate in my entirety, from that time onwards, first compelled only by it, and shortly afterwards also stimulated quite often by my own consciousness, I lived absorbed in these researches until the year This above-mentioned self-stimulation by means of my consciousness began to take place in me as a result of experiencing in all my Being a peculiar feeling, a mixture of " self-satisfaction " and " pride '', which arose in me every time I made accidental or half-foreseen verifications in the course of my further investigations of ever new and new facts concerning people's lives in general, facts about the existence of which I had never found a hint either in daily life or in my readings, although I had read almost everything existing about these questions in contemporary literature, as well as all the material from
13 the past surviving until our day, a literature accessible to me because of quite accidental circumstances of my life in a quantity far beyond the usual possibilities of the ordinary man. Until that year I did not succeed in discovering anything, anywhere or from anybody, that could logically-andharmoniously throw light upon even one aspect of this question, notwithstanding that, firstly, a restless factor reminding me automatically of the aim I had set myself was persistently active in my Being in almost every psychic state; secondly, Great Nature had benevolently provided all my family and me in particular and that not only in my opinion but in that of a great many people with whom I came in contact with the highest degree of comprehension attainable by man; thirdly, from childhood I had, among other capabilities, one especially developed, that of eliciting from people their most sacred aims and intentions; and fourthly, I had, in accordance with the peculiar conditions of my life, the possibility of gaining " access to the so-called holy-of-holies " of nearly all hermetic organizations such as religious, philosophical, occult, political and mystic societies, congregations, parties, unions etc., which were inaccessible to the ordinary man, and of discussing and exchanging views with innumerable people who, in comparison with others, are real authorities. Although I did not succeed until this period in elucidating anything, I never lost hope that somewhere, and at some time, I should finally meet people who would explain to me or at least direct my state of mind to corresponding thoughts and considerations, which would help me to resolve for myself clearly and satisfactorily this, for me, fateful question. Living in this way until that year, that is, absorbing
14 all external impressions and experiencing them inwardly in connection almost only with this mania of mine, and outwardly occupying myself with all kinds of professions and handicrafts to the end, on the one hand, of obtaining means of livelihood and, on the other, of mastering, according to the capacity inherent in me since childhood, every possible kind of human craft as yet unknown to me, but chiefly to the end of adapting myself in a more or less corresponding way to the particular conditions of the moment, conditions which I frequently changed in order to realize this inner aim of mine, I arrived then, in the abovementioned year, at the definite conclusion that it would be utterly impossible to find out what I was looking for among my contemporaries and therefore decided one day to abandon everything and to retire for a definite period into complete isolation, away from all manifestations of the outer world, and to endeavour by means of active reflections to attain to this myself or to think out some new ways for my fertile researches. This took place during my stay in Central Asia, when, thanks to the introduction of a street-barber, whom I accidentally met and with whom I became great friends, I happened to obtain access into a monastery well known among the followers of the Mahometan religion, and I availed myself of the hospitality of the good brothers. Once, after a talk with some of the brothers of this monastery about the nature and quality of human faith, and the consequences of the action of its impulse on man, I, under the influence of this discourse, became still further convinced that I must abide by my decision and profit immediately by this opportunity in this very monastery. Retiring into isolation that very evening, I put myself into the necessary state and began seriously meditating upon my situation and future conduct.
15 Following the necessary and, to me, already familiar method customary to all initiates in that branch of ancient science called " the-laws-of-contemplation ", consisting, in the given case, chiefly in the remembering and reviewing all the already existing categorical convictions on this subject, I began to confront different facts I personally had fully conceived with all kinds of hypotheses and conjectures I had heard from different authoritative people who, compared with others, were possessed of really great knowledge, and had also attained to a state of being corresponding to this knowledge. As a result of pursuing this method for three days, while I did not arrive at any definite conclusions, I still became clearly and absolutely convinced that the answers for which I was looking, and which in their totality might throw light on this cardinal question of mine, can only be found, if they are at all accessible to man, in the sphere of " man's-subconscious-mentation ". Then I became firmly convinced also that, for this purpose, it was indispensable for me to perfect my knowledge of all the details of the formation as well as of the mechanism of the manifestation of man's general psyche. Arriving at this categorical conclusion, I began again, for several days and in my habitual manner, to think and think almost uninterruptedly about what should be done in order to create requisite and satisfactory worldly conditions making possible the study of such an unexpected problem. Still completely a slave of these deliberations, I left the monastery and took up my wanderings again, this time with no definite plan of action. During these uninterrupted peregrinations of mine from place to place, and almost continuous and intense
16 reflection about this, I at last formed a preliminary plan in my mind. Liquidating all my affairs and mobilizing all my material and other possibilities, I began to collect all kinds of written literature and oral information, still surviving among certain Asiatic peoples, about that branch of science, which was highly developed in ancient times and called '' Mehkeness '', a name signifying the '' takingaway-of-responsibility ", and of which contemporary civilisation knows but an insignificant portion under the name of " hypnotism ", while all the literature extant upon the subject was already as familiar to me as my own five fingers. Collecting all I could, I went to a certain Dervish monastery, situated likewise in Central Asia and where I had already stayed before, and, settling down there, I devoted myself wholly to the study of the material in my possession. After two years of thorough theoretical study of this branch of science, when it became necessary to verify practically certain indispensable details, not as yet sufficiently elucidated by me in theory, of the mechanism of the functioning of man's subconscious sphere, I began to give myself out to be a " healer '' of all kinds of vices and to apply the results of my theoretical studies to them, affording them at the same time, of course, real relief. This continued to be my exclusive preoccupation and manifestation for four or five years in accordance with the essential oath imposed by my task, which consisted in rendering conscientious aid to sufferers, in never using my knowledge and practical power in that domain of science except for the sake of my investigations, and never for personal or egotistical ends, I not only arrived at unprecedented practical results without equal in our day,
17 but also elucidated almost everything necessary for me. In a short time, I discovered many details which might contribute to the solution of the same cardinal question, as well as many secondary facts, the existence of which I had scarcely suspected. At the same time, I also became convinced that the greater number of minor details necessary for the final elucidation of this question must be sought not only in the sphere of man's subconscious mentation, but in various aspects of the manifestations in his state of waking consciousness. After establishing this definitely, thoughts again began from time to time to " swarm " in my mind, as they had done years ago, sometimes automatically, sometimes directed by my consciousness, thoughts as to the means of adapting myself now to the conditions of ordinary life about me with a view to elucidating finally and infallibly this question, which obviously had become a lasting and inseparable part of my Being. This time my reflections, which recurred periodically during the two years of my wanderings on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, resulted in a decision to make use of my exceptional, for the modern man, knowledge of the so-called " supernatural sciences ", as well as of my skill in producing different " tricks " in the domain of these so-called " sciences ", and to give myself out to be, in these pseudo-scientific domains, a so-called " professor-instructor ". It must be said that the main reason for this decision was my realisation of the fact that, at that time, there was, among men, a widely prevalent and specific psychosis which, as has been long established, attains periodically a high degree and is manifested by people giving them-
18 selves up to various " woeful " ideas in these spheres of quasi-human knowledge, which, in different epochs, bore different names, and which today are called " occultism ", " theosophism ", " spiritualism " etc. From the moment of this decision I directed all my capacities and attention to coming into contact with people belonging to one or other of these vast organizations, where people foregathered in an attempt to reach certain special results by studying one sort or another of the above-mentioned " sciences ''. The ensuing circumstances of my life were so favourable to me that, within six months, I succeeded not only in coming into contact with a great number of these people, but even in being accepted as a well known " expert " and guide in evoking so-called " phenomena-of-the-beyond " in a very large " circle ", as they called it. After I had been " acclimatised " to my new calling, my reputation among all the members of the aforesaid " circle " and even among their families became that of a great " maestro " in all that comprised supernatural knowledge. At the time of these so-called " manipulations " in the realm of the beyond, which I performed in the presence of a large number of members of one of the numerous, widespread, then as today upon Earth,"workshops-for-the-perfection-of-psychopathism", a name I now openly call them, I began to observe and study various manifestations in the waking state of the psyche of these trained and freely moving " Guinea- Pigs ", allotted to me by Destiny for my experiments. Although by the beginning of the third year of this activity I had already acquired a solid authority among " the members of three such large independent Workshops ", through which I obtained a great deal of material for my observations, and in spite of the fact that I could
19 have had as many as I wanted, I was compelled to give them all up and to undertake the organization of my own " circle " on quite new principles, with a staff of people chosen specially by me. I decided to do so mainly for the reason that, meeting then a great number of people usually composing such circles, I had elucidated and established the fact that in such societies foregather generally people of three or four definite " types ", whereas it was necessary for me in order to observe the manifestations of man's psyche in his waking state to have at my disposal representatives of all the 28 " categories-of-types " existing on Earth, as they were established in ancient times. Putting this plan into execution with enormous and almost superhuman effort, and with, of course, very heavy expenditure, I organized, in different cities, three small groups of people of as varying types as I could possibly muster in the course of three years. Realising during the second year of the existence of these groups organized by me that, under the prevailing conditions, I would not be able to have at my disposal, for a period long enough for my observations, the representatives of all the types, and while continuing to direct these groups, on the one hand, observing and studying the material already available, and, on the other, satisfying as conscientiously as possible those in whose psyche the passion of curiosity was deeply rooted, and impartially destroying in those others, in whom the predisposition proper to all men for acquiring a real '' Being '' was not yet atrophied, all their former illusions and erroneous ideals, in this way preparing, in all events, possible assistants for me in the future, I began periodically to ponder again in order to find still the possibility of creating such conditions as would allow me to satisfy at last this
20 extraordinary and accidentally roused need of mine. These periodical deliberations finally led me to found the Institute, which later existed under the name of the " Institute - For - Man's - Harmonious - Develop ment - according - to - the - system - of - G. Gurdjieff ". The " canvas ", so to say, which served as a background for this decision was the consideration that, with such a broadly planned public organization, embracing as it did almost all the interests of contemporary life, I would be sure to bring together apart from the types I had mainly met before all the other types of people previously lacking for my observations. Setting forth in this booklet the motives for my decision at that time, based as it was upon inner, sincere and impartial impulses, I consider it necessary to speak of the mental and emotive associations flowing through my entirety and which, in their sum-total, gave rise to this decision, which was in complete harmony with my conscience. Towards the end of all my reflections at that time, as a result of which I had at last firmly decided to organize such a public Institute, when there arose in my entirety then, as has always happened in similar cases, that strange impulse which is proper to my peculiar individuality and which automatically compels me to consider always each new task in life also from the point of view of " objective justice ", my reasonings with myself were as follows : To make use of people, who display a special interest in an Institute founded by me, for purely personal ends would surely strike those around me as a manifestation of '' egotism '', but at the same time the people, who had anything to do with such an Institute established by me, those, namely, whom I have previously mentioned and in whom the predisposition proper to all men, that
21 of acquiring data and of preparing in their being the soil " for the impulse of objective-conscience " and for the formation of so-called " essential-prudence " had not yet entirely atrophied, could, in this way alone, profit by the results of knowledge amassed by me due to exceptional circumstances of my life, and which had regard to nearly all the aspects of reality and objective truth, and thus use them for their own benefit. As to the location of this Institute, I decided, after a great deal of deliberation and after taking into account the existing circumstances of ordinary life and the facilities of intercourse with other nations so essential to me, that the most suitable place would be Russia, which at that time was peaceful, rich and quiet. Arriving at this final decision, I began at once to liquidate my " current " affairs, which were dispersed over different countries in Asia, and collecting all the wealth which I had amassed during my long life, which was an exceptionally laborious one for a modern man, I came and settled in the very heart of Russia, in the City of Moscow. This happened two years before the so-called " Great- World-War ". In this booklet I shall not say anything more about this Institute, which I first founded in Russia, where the unexpected and catastrophic events of the World War destroyed it at the very height of its earlier activities and with it all the results hitherto obtained. I shall not describe also the further " peripeteias " or the attempts to organize such an Institute again in various other towns in Russia, as well as in other countries, attempts which all came to nothing because of all the various consequences of the War and each time with a " crash " involving enormous material and other loss; and its fundamental and successful establishment seven years later in noble
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